Family Vacation 2001
Just a few side notes to clarify
the experiences from our Road Trip.
Breakfast. Hmmm. How to describe
it. Well, lets start with the obvious. It includes:
The Scots may add Haggis,
but that is another story. Some of the finer restaurants may offer
your choice of this list of stuff, others just give you a plateful of tradition.
In all fairness - it isn't bad. But there does not seem to be another
option. Pancakes, French Toast, Eggs Bennidict, or just some cereal.
Okay, cereal is available - kind of comes with the juice and toast.
But, the point is after 12 days, we was ready for some variety.
1 egg (usually fried, but you can get it poached
Bacon (large thick cuts)
Toast (lots and lots of toast)
Juice (predominately orange juice, but we
saw grapefruit and tomato too).
Tea or coffee
Haggis is a traditional food of Scotland. Unlike Scotch Ale and Scotch
Malt Whiskey, this favorite hasn't developed a following much outside the
borders of Scotland. Basically, it is the internal organs of a sheep
(heart, liver, etc.) ground up and cooked with some spices in a sheep's
stomach. It is served like hash. Sometimes it is molded into
little patties. It has an earthy aroma and taste. If you are
fond of liver & onions, this could be just the treat you are looking
for. Personally, I recommend some of the other bounty Scotland has
Odd but True
Speaking of Chocolate, here is a odd coincedence. 'Toblerone' was
made by a Mr. Tobler in triangular shapes to suggest the Swiss mountains.
It was given a Swiss patent authorised by Albert Einstein, who happened
to be working in the patent office at the time.
Driving the city streets
Oh! I need to try and paint a picture
of the driving experience. In town, by and large the toughest driving
experience, consists of narrow 2 lane roads. People park their cars
on both sides of the street. There is not really any room for parking,
so the cars tend to be half on the sidewalk and partially in the street.
This leaves just enough room for a single narrow car to pass through.
But remember, these are 2 way roads, they drive fairly quickly (like 40
mph) and there are lots of blind intersections. Basically, if you
have nerves of steel, no hesitation to barge forward into a foot path that
passes for a road, and never look back - you will do fine. A local
did explain to me the lines in the road really don't have any meaning so
you don't need to be bothered by the fact you usually are driving down
the middle of the road. Once we understood that, the driving started
to get better.
Driving the country roads
The country roads are either "A" roads or "B" roads. Presumably,
the A roads are better than sheep paths, but you will see sheep on the
roads. Another characteristic is the narrow lanes. A lot of your
time is usually spent trying to determine if the passenger side should
scrape the stone wall or the driver's side should collide with the oncoming
traffic. Another feature is the free (or is that liberal) use of
passing - even in blind stretches of road. Diana did point out we saw no
accidents, but there were some signs in western England (or was that Wales)
that discussed trying to reduce the rate of 136 casualties in the past
The "B" roads are less sophisticated.
Driving the round-abouts
Oh, and the round-a-bouts. Kind of interesting, and by the end of
the trip, we were doing quite well. The key here is that shortly
before the round-about there will be a big sign with a picture of the round-about.
It will show the number of entries (or is that exits) and a indication
that what road and destination would be achieved if you took that path.
When you approach the round-about, you yield to oncoming traffic (remember
to look RIGHT!). The English say "Give Way" as opposed to "Yield",
but you will figure that out very quickly as 20 tons of lorry comes at
you. One you are in the round-about, you have the right-of-way.
Each exit is marked with another smaller sign - sometimes using the same
road and destinations marked on the previous big sign. If you get
lost, feel free to go around again. But beware, like spinning around
- it doesn't take too many spins before you can not tell even where you
came in (much less where you want to get off). The round-about is
the typical junction of the country roads.
Driving the motorways
The motorways are identified by a "M" before
a number. Like M1. The key here is speed. In general,
they resemble the Interstate Highways of the USA. But, did I say
they go fast? Honest! I was going 85 mph in the slow lane.
If I had been in the fast lane (or passing lane), the other cars would
have come screaming up from behind, flash their lights, and tailgate until
you move over. And did I mention that during the week at least 1/3
of the traffic are huge semis - oh, excuse me, lorries.
Soho district in Greater London
Soho is the entertainment or theatre district of London. It reminds
you of Times Square of New York. Lots of cinema, live theater, restaurants,
etc. A bit to the Northeast of Leicester Square underground station
is several blocks of the seedier side of the entertainment district.
Women in doorways beconing you into their place for shows or even more
intimate relations. In general, hold onto your money. Pick
pockets are rampant here. And the shows are scams - promising much
more than you will ever see. And be very careful of even a simple
conversation could cost you hundreds of pounds. But on the upside,
Mark was propositioned by a street walker. She was quite descriptive
of cost and services rendered. As Mark gets older, even a little
attention will build his ego - even if she is only after his money.
But really, I suspect this was as much a scam as the rest of the businesses
- I suspect her boyfriend would have been waiting to extract more money
and minimize any services rendered.